I love London; it always leaves me wanting more. The fashion is next level, the pubs super fun, and the people are genuinely enthusiastic about America and Americans. As a history fan, London does not disappoint and there is always something in view to remind you that Britain is great for a reason. I was there last month to see Eric Clapton’s final night at The Royal Albert Hall and brought an almost empty suitcase that I filled past capacity for my return home, British pound vs. American Dollar conversion rate be damned. Pick your poison fashion fans, or pick them all as I did. Whoops.
MAYFAIR / BOND STREET: HARRODS & SELFRIDGES
Want it ultra posh, upscale, and pricey? Heading to Mayfair and Bond Street are musts but be sure to go to Harrods and Selfridges. These London retailers are considered national treasures for a reason. Teeming with shoppers keeping the cash boxes ringing, the conspicuous consumption of the most exclusive brands and logomania makes for excellent people watching and will suck you in as well. I dare you to visit Harrods and not walk out swinging one of their hunter green shopping bags. Sticker shock got you down when in Harrods or Selfridges? Head to the food halls and prepare to be amazed by the cornucopia of culinary choices. Harrods is the more incredible of the two, pretty sure I ruptured an optic nerve trying to take it all in. There is nothing like these food halls in America and nothing like these two very British institutions.
Like your fashion fast, served up easy peasy, and budget friendly? Then Oxford Street / Oxford Circus is for you. Try not to go on the weekend when the immense crowds will slow you down. Send your bloke to the pub and wear comfortable shoes and clothes easy to change in and out of, you are going to want to move like a fashion ninja to experience the insane amount of choices. Get your fleek on at the Primark store, which is a playground of must haves at incredibly reasonable prices. I can’t wait for the Primark to open in Downtown Crossing this fall; that’s right Boston we are going to have our own Primark, which will be the first one to open in the USA. Topshop’s flagship store is like the hot boyfriend you can never really get over because its just so good, why aren’t the Topshops in America this yummy? Given my obsession perhaps it’s for the best.
Rihanna’s favorite River Island exceeded my expectations especially as a source for interesting accessories and custom jewelry, how I wish there were stores stateside. There is a Zara on every other corner yet the mix of merchandise varies slightly by store making it necessary for me to visit each one. Damn you and thank you Zara, European Zaras trump their sister stores in America every time. Even H&M seems to have upped their game offering merchandise I have never seen on this side of the pond. Festival fashion is currently THE theme in all of these stores so rock on fast fashion groupies.
My favorite places to shop in London are the vintage areas and markets. You’ll love it too if you are all about the hunt for the truly unique and original. Leave the tony neighborhoods of the West End and the madness of the main shopping streets and head to gritty Brick Lane for some of the best fashion vintage shopping on the globe. It’s not posh or pretty, but Brick Lane has a great assortment of vintage stores that offer their wares categorized with British military precision. Prices are in the reasonable range and in the individually owned stores you can feel free to haggle a bit. Blitz was the star store; the assortment and quality of their vintage merchandise blew me away. Expertly curated, make sure you visit the basement for their clearance area where I scored some fringed pieces that are totally on trend, leather and furs, and classic capes that I know will be standouts come the fall. Once you’ve made your way down Brick Lane, be sure to hit nearby Spitafields Market where you can find independent purveyors of fashion both vintage and current. It was love at first site for me when I walked in Collectif. This retro rockabilly boutique was all 40’s and 50’s sex symbol with a new age edge stray cat strut that just won’t quit. Shopping making you thirsty and working a Jack The Ripper fascination? Be sure to stop by The Ten Bells for a pint (or two) before heading back to modern day reality.
Winter may be officially over, but there is a very vibrant, energetic group of people still skiing and they will be until the lifts are turned off. Okemo Mountain Resort has always been one of my favorite places to ski, they groom to let you zoom and when mother nature doesn’t deliver on the snow, the team at Okemo always does. From an alpine fashion standpoint, the sophisticates who make the quick trek up from the greater New York area always makes it a treat. The best people watching and style scouting can be found in the Jackson Gore area, where I always see the most interesting on-mountain looks. Once the aprés action starts, the Jackson Gore Lodge is teeming with well dressed people and I believe owner and fashion fan Diane Mueller must have had that in mind when she and husband Tim expanded Okemo and built this lodge. Here are some of my favorite looks from the always outstanding Okemo:
Where’s the party? Bet he knows! From his K2 special edition Rolling Stones Side Show skis, to his multi color gridlock print outwear by Sessions, this gentleman hit the hill ready to rock and roll. Mick Jagger said “Don’t you think it’s sometimes wise not to grow up?” Mick was right and everybody who skis and rides isn’t completely grown up when they play in the snow at Okemo. Just ask this guy…if you can catch him.
Snow board or musical instrument, on the slope or on the stage – either way Ashley Cox just kills it. Her infectious energy can’t be contained and her choice of Aperture’s Peak to Creek printed jacket and pant is perfect for shredding it up on her Feather Snowboard by Burton. Check out her band Professional Victims and their new album “Fathom the Cosmos” because chicks that ride and rock rule.
When Laura Aman strode into the Jackson Gore lodge, everybody noticed and I did a cartwheel. How I love seeing a gorgeous woman carry herself with such confidence and grace! Her beauty caught my eye but it was her incredible accessories that hooked me. Her amazing fur bomber hat and to die for Chanel bag, paired with basic black was aprés perfection. As warm as she is striking, Laura is a fashion executive with NSR Nina Runsdorf, the exquisite high end jewelry line favored by celebrities and style setters.
Sporting yellow that is anything but mellow, the fabulous Victoria K. from Washington DC brought some elevated ski style to the top of the run. Her yellow and white Nautica ski jacket works like a charm with these super flattering, 3/4 zip pants by Marmot, and her pom pom hat brings the vibrant colors together perfectly. Victoria works in an interior design firm that specializes in luxury hospitality and loves to ski because she finds it the perfect medium of personal expression.
GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN
Ali and Helena are uniform wearing students from Connecticut during the week, but once school is out it’s all about colorful jackets with printed ski pants. Popping with color against the snow, they don’t want to just look good, they demand performance from what they wear and mix brands to create their own unique looks. Ali’s Eider fuchsia jacket is nicely matched with her blue, swirl print Zoe technical pants by Sunice. Not to be outdone, Helena is giving us some tropical thunder by pairing her purple Patagonia jacket with farrow jungle print pants by North Face.
Spring is alive and in the air! Tuesday night I was honored to be host of the first annual Fashion Power Play to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation and The Second Step at Copley Place in Boston’s Back Bay district. Neiman Marcus dressed the gorgeous wives and significant others of the Bruins — as well as professional models, to show off the looks for Spring/Summer ’15. Our own Kathy Benharris organized the entire production and did a beautiful job indeed. Managing the models and wives, who generously volunteered their time for this good cause, is no easy task. Backstage was an organized frenzy, with makeup, hair and fittings all taking place at once. Racks of Milly, Shoshanna, and Prada filled the room. Neiman’s Spring/Summer vision was Spice Market, so we saw the runway decorated with a mix of vivid oranges, blues and yellows, intermingled in floral patterns and expressionist type prints. Kathy started the show with boho chic fringe, lots of leather and jeans, then transitioned to some demure cocktail attire, focusing on trends such as the crop top, which I happened to be sporting that evening. I received many compliments on my outfit and was happy to represent two local designers who are near and dear to my heart, Daniela Corte and Monika Ramizi. And of course, sitting front row across from the entire Bruins lineup was quite a treat…well, I mean someone had to do it.
Watch below to see how Kathy Benharris took over the center of Copley Place, while showing off Spring/Summer ’15, all for a good cause.
There is something for everyone at Tremblant, Quebec’s most upscale mountain resort destination. The skiing and riding is superb, but what really makes Tremblant worth the trip is the charm of the pedestrian village, the après scene, and the myriad of activities available to those who don’t get their thrills on the hill. Join the worship of everything maple syrup, go shopping, get your spa on, experience dog sledding, ice skate under the stars, and enjoy the diverse cuisine. Tremblant is a great choice for couples, families, and singles looking to mingle. Teeming with Brits and Europeans, there is always “a party on the patio” regardless of what the temperature is.
I love the French chic that is evident everywhere you look in Tremblant. Here skiers and riders step it up a notch, maybe several notches actually, with what they wear both on and off the mountain. Paging Dr. Zahivago: Real fur is the big story at Tremblant and the fashion forward are mixing it up a by wearing furs of different origins at the same time. Not your ‘80’s neons, yellow, pinks, and graphic prints stood out boldly against the snow and metallic touches were everywhere. The hottest accessory is the knit hat with an oversized pom pom, with spikey fox or raccoon fur poms being the most sought after. Tremblant boutiques cannot keep these hats in stock right now and remember fashion fans, the bigger and higher your pom pom, the closer to god.
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Overall impression: Go for the architecture, the inspired shopping, creative and friendly atmosphere and the trendy dining. A must in Amsterdam? The enchanted 9th Street District for its swirl of everything amazing.
I love vintage and I really love European vintage. European fashion from a previous era tells a story that more contemporary fashion rarely does. Owning the original version of a fashion moment is more inspiring to me then the “easy get” of that mass produced look today.
My favorite spot to source unique and envy inspiring pieces is Episode. Episode is a small chain, but you can’t hold that against them as they are all about budget friendly, quality merchandise that is organized with dewy decimal precision. The focus on grouping like merchandise together is a godsend when time is tight – and your husband’s patience is growing thin. Their mens collection is just as fabulous as their ladies. If you’ve never “been into vintage” or found vintage to be too much work, Episode will convert and spoil you.
HIGHLIGHTS OF MY VINTAGE BINGE:
The tuxedo jacket with tails of my dreams – €30.00 (euros) and a heavily metal grommeted ’80’s jacket done in buttery soft suede – €25.00.
Amazing fur accessories: muffs, collars, boleros, hats, scarves, gloves. Sorry PETA but I bought bags full and I certainly wasn’t alone. Everybody is buying and wearing fur in Amsterdam, and with prices that start at €10.00 and topped out at about €50.00, you can see why. The fur coats were all in the €100.00. range and would easily go for much more in the US.
An epic, embroidered lederhosen, with incredible leather braided suspenders. I am obsessed with the buttons, the pewter buckles, and the embroidery. Super flattering and completely unexpected, I can’t wait to wear this with a killer pair of high heels. At only €35.00 , I now wish I had bought more.
LAURA DOLS VINTAGE
My spirit animal has got to be the magpie. Its bad rap for attraction to shiny things hits close to home, because I too am absurdly attracted to everything that glitters – especially vintage. Indulge your inner magpie while in Amsterdam and be sure to visit Laura Dols, located in the heart of the 9th Street District. This sweet, well curated two level shop is filled with a wide range of girly party dresses that will have you feeling ready to go get flirty. Sequins, beading, and feathers embellished on silks, satins, and all varieties of polyester from the last 5 decades boast impressive quality. What did I bring back to my nest? The diaphanous, white belted dress with a subtle metallic sheen, very Kathleen Turner in “Body Heat”.
Attention all femme fatales: for unabashedly feminine lingerie, a stop at Stout is a must when visiting Amsterdam’s 9th Street District. Don’t let its unfortunate name fool you; this small but incredible boutique is for grown up ladies, who need something more stimulating than Victoria’s tired secrets. All 50 shades of exquisite underpinnings are offered and well displayed. Sexy, bold, sweet, classic, naughty…whatever your personal taste, this is an upscale shopping experience that will surprise and delight you with its wide range of European brands. I’m always impressed with their selection of beautiful bras, panties, teddies, swim wear, accessories and other items that will help you break hearts and get your groove on.
Skier, rider, or granola chomping telemaker, we all notice what each other is wearing out on the slopes and when queuing for the chairlift. Being on top of a mountain is fun, challenging, and invigorating. The technical performance of our gear is paramount to enjoying the experience, but after that is addressed, where is the personal style? We get to wear whatever we want out there people, there is no dress code! Bring on the fun, the whimsy, the sexy, the chic, the grunge, the lumberjack…whatever your unique style is, bring it to the hill and rock it.
If you’ve never been to “ the Rivah” its always worth the trip with eight interconnected mountains to explore. In a sea of snow enthusiasts wearing predictable normcore snow apparel, these slope style stars stood out last week at Sunday River.
BRUINS STEEZE PLAY
Team spirit is great, especially on game day. Too often on the slope it can look like the fan scooped everything up off their floor after a frat party, before hitting the hill. Kind of boyishly charming if the fan is young enough, not cute at all once their college days are over. I have never seen the wearing of a team jersey executed quite so well as Peter Taylor’s boarding Bruins fan look. This handsome hockey player from East Greenwich, RI nailed it by keeping it all Bruins gold, black, and white. With everything fresh and the fit just right, I wasn’t the only fan of Peter’s game day style. Gentlemen, pay attention, as this is how its done.
Vintage ski fashion is my personal kryptonite, especially when it is unexpected. Its cheeky fun to see what creative folks put together when they get their retro on at the resort. That is why when I saw siblings Sarah and Ned Asherman, I almost did a cartwheel before I made a beeline to talk to them. They were absolutely the coolest kids at the River, rocking bamboo panda poles, viper sunglasses, and Ned’s amazing faux fur coat, which even matched Sarah’s headband. Her wicked 80’s awesome printed suit was straight up Hot Tub Time Machine, and I just want to go back to her future. They thought about it and they brought it. Whip smart and completely in on the giggle, Team Asherman was one of my favorite holiday surprises.
It’s a treat to see a chick who rips work some femininity into her look. With everyone wearing yoga pants everywhere off mountain with varying degrees of success, I hoped to see performance stretch pants out on the mountain done right. Thank you Heather Reader of North Boston for choosing these super flattering black and white patterned Obermeyer stretch pants. Heather’s pink Salomon jacket adds a nice pop of color against the white snow. Ladies, here is proof you can look like a girl when skiing the men into the ground. Go Heather!
LADIES WHO SHRED
For 80 years Bogner has worn the tiara of being the most internationally popular of the high-end ski apparel lines. Lavish use of fur, leathers, suede, and embroidery has been Bogner’s hallmark, and while not everybody may be a fan, you have to give Bogner props on how well their pieces deliver performance and stand up to years of wear. Trevor Mullineaux’s stunning black Bogner jacket is a perfect example of its classic aesthetic and are just right paired with her Powder Horn pants. Not to be outdone, her sister Michon Schenck is the epitome of alpine sophistication in her wood panel and stainless steel Bogner helmet, and white pants worn with this fur trimmed femme fatale jacket in the perfect shade of fabulous by Toni Sailer.
Let it snow and see you next time on the vertical runway!
Confession: I’ve never wanted to be a personal shopper. There, I said it. I love to shop and am all about finding the perfect fashion solution but with the majority of personal shopping services tied to a single store, it didn’t seem like a good fit. I’m an independent fashion stylist who craves the creative freedom to be able to mix brands and price points to serve a customer’s needs. I also had reservations about the customer wondering if the advice and guidance they received was somehow influenced by personal shoppers, whose compensation is tied to how much the customer spends. All that changed when Copley Place started a new personal shopping program that allows their personal shopper to bring customers to any retailer within the mall. And it’s free to customers! With the focus 100% on finding the right options for customers, let’s just say I was “all in.”
“Fashion is what you buy. Style is what you do with it” – unknown. Great style has the power to transform and change not only how you feel, but how others view you. Gender, age, body type, or even budget are irrelevant because ultimately, confidence is the goal. When you feel like you’re presenting your best self you stand taller, you’re happier, and you feel ready for success. I’m obsessed with finding the dress that will flatter your figure perfectly, the jeans that make you want to strut, the suit you will reach for when you need super powers. I have created thousands of looks for the fashion shows I produce, the photo shoots I contribute to, and the clients I serve. Dressing models is big fun and I love it, but being able to help real people with their fashion needs is tremendously rewarding.
Whether shopping for gifts, special occasion outfits, or adding key pieces to your wardrobe, I will show you options that fit your unique individual style and budget. Some retailers will even extend special unpublished discounts and benefits to guests when shopping with me – sweet! No sales pressure – this is all about providing you with an exceptional personal styling and shopping experience.
See you soon!
The goal of the evening was a fashion magic carpet ride, an inclusionary “big tent” event that a diverse gathering of fashionistas, both men and women, could enjoy regardless of their personal approach to style. I wanted a designer dream team, each possessing an original vision for strong females with the type of talent that transcends and inspires. I chose the fresh, confident chic of Kreyol, the futuristic military vision of Julie Kontos paired with Race & Grant, and the red carpet drama of David Josef’s dresses.
Kreyol, created by the glamorous Haitian born designer Joelle Jean Fontaine, opened the show with her Capsule Collection. The collection included 50’s inspired garments with circa 1800 details and modern touches. The structured bouffant sleeves and full, oversized a – line skirts were reminiscent of a by gone era, but the form fitting pencil skirts and cropped tops in colorfully rich patterns gave the collection a distinctly modern sex appeal. Looks were completed with strong jewelry, flirty sunglasses, and leather driving gloves. Fontaine designs Kreyol for “the woman who creates her own reality, she is born to stand out and rule her destiny looking fabulously chic.”
The second presentation featured Boston-based designer Julie Kontos paired with Tracy Belben & Helena Grant, the accessory designers behind Race & Grant. This fusion created an evening wear collection that blends the team’s talents and commands attention. Kontos “classic with an edge” aesthetic evokes the structure of military styling with clean lines and symmetry, yet balances femininity by implementing thoughtful cut outs and flattering silhouettes. Touches of lace and shimmery fabrics enhance the crisp navy, gray, and white color palette. The fashion designer worked directly with Race & Grant to create customized accessories to compliment features within each garment.
Meticulously handcrafted by the designers, Race & Grant (aka ‘R&G’) is a fusion between chain jewelry artist (Belben) and handbag/ accessories creator (Grant). “In military styling, function is important. We created durable bags that incorporate both vegan and real leathers in rich color tones to accompany Julie’s collection,” states Grant, who crafts and engineers the structure of R&G’s bags. Each R&G bag is intricately wrapped and finished in hand-linked chainmaille, which further expresses the military concept within Kontos’ collection. “If you look closely, you will find hidden symbols such as crosses and American flags linked within the chainmaille”, says Belben, who finishes each R&G piece with chain adornments. This fashion stylist says “Sign me up!”
Closing the show and bringing down the house was designer David Josef, a force in the fashion world for nearly 40 years. He attributes his long success to recognizing the needs of each individual client and focuses on silhouettes that enhance a woman’s beauty, no matter her age or dress size. Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Ave have all carried his collections. David Josef has been featured in ads in Vogue, Town & Country, and Harper’s Bazaar. The client list for his beautiful cocktail dresses and gowns is extensive and includes both national and local celebrities in film and news media. David has worked with Judith Light, Dionne Warwick, Debbie Reynolds and WCVB’s Susan Wornick. More recently, David worked on the wedding gown for Ariana Brown, daughter of former Senator Scott Brown and Gail Huff, for her July 2014 wedding.
Models provided by Dynasty
DAVID JOSEF – facebook
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CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
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